"Embrace the unknown"
Julia Pardee '21
Global Entrepreneurial Fellow
Internship | uGlobally
I’ve always been one to prefer structure and organization. All the books in my room are color-coded. I write all the deadlines for my entire semester before the first day of class. It’s safe to say I’m a fan of knowing what I’m getting into. So, when I was presented with a seemingly structured market research project for my internship at uGlobally, I was initially relieved. Our team (Dave, Peter, and I) was tasked with adapting their newest platform to their customers’ needs for global market expansion. Although it was a broad goal, we were given a schedule for the summer, which I willingly accepted. But in the back of my mind, this seemed too good to be true. Afterall, isn’t the essence of entrepreneurship adapting on the fly?
Armed with our deck laying out the summer’s structure, we followed our roadmap for week one: fix bugs on the website, schedule customer interviews, and conduct market research. We had productive conversations with founders and previous customers from all over the world and asked pointed questions to understand their needs, wants, and motivations. As we started to develop a general understanding of our audiences’ needs, the interviews started to turn more onto us. Our subjects, especially the Lehigh alumni, started to ask us about our work at uGlobally. To be frank, we did not know all the answers to their questions. Naturally, we problem-solved the Baker way — with a stack of virtual post-its.
We laid out what we knew about the business model and ended up shifting uGlobally’s structure around. Boldly, we thought it was a good idea to set up a meeting with our bosses to ask some questions about the company and pitch our new structure. Needless to say, this call was not listed in our initial project deck.
Enthusiastically, our bosses agreed to listen, and forty-five minutes later, our plan for the summer entirely changed. The design thinking framework we started off with quickly faded away, as we set off on a new project: redesigning the entire uGlobally website.
When I said it seemed too good to be true, I was both right and wrong. Although my personality gravitates more towards structure, my approach to entrepreneurship is more flexible, as it needs to be. Through collaborating with the team, we were able to recreate our project from the ground up to create more value for both the company and our internship experience. Since I entered this program with a more academic mindset, my first two weeks at uGlobally reminded me to embrace the unknown and be adaptable. It’s the only way to succeed in the startup world, physically or virtually.